Van Cauter et al. (J Am Med Ass) found that as men age, they typically get less deep sleep. With less deep sleep, there is less bodily production of “growth hormone”, which is associated with “increased fat tissue and abdominal obesity, reduced muscle mass and strength, and reduced exercise capacity”.
Individuals with Sleep Apnea experience a decrease in deep sleep due to constant interruption in normal sleep architecture. Since growth hormone has been shown to increase with an increase in deep sleep, it follows that by treating sleep apnea and re-establishing a normal sleep architecture, appropriate growth hormone production may be re-established reducing the tendency to gain weight with age.
As a lifestyle choice, exercising at least 20 minutes three or four times a week has also been associated with an increase in deep sleep; weight loss, treatment of sleep apnea and quality of sleep all remain closely related.